Could you name your risk factors for dementia?
Could you name your cardiovascular health risk factors?
The American Heart Association list 7 risk factors cardiovascular health (all modifiable through lifestyle changes): Blood sugar, serum cholesterol, blood pressure, body mass index, physical activity, diet + cigarette smoking.
Generally the better you score, the better your heart health and the lower your risk for cardiovascular disease.
Heart health Vs. brain health
However, did you know there is a relationship between your cardiovascular risk and cognitive decline? That the same 7 factors that benefit cardiovascular health also benefit brain health?
Because the link between the two has been known for some time. What was previously unclear was the extent to which genes and/or the environment played into the relationship.
This is where twin studies can help differentiate between “nature vs. nurture” (genetically vs. environmentally driven).
Whilst it was acknowledged that familial factors (such as early family environment, socioeconomic status, education, parenting) – rather than genetics – may be important precursors of both cardiovascular and brain health, there was nevertheless a clear association between cardiovascular health and cognition.
Our brain health is in our own hands
Further: “Because CVH factors are modifiable, prevention of cardiovascular risk factors (and promotion of a healthy lifestyle beginning early in life) should achieve the best results for promoting not only cardiovascular health, but also cognitive brain health.” – Ambar Kulshreshtha
In other words, improving cardiovascular scores has the potential to reduce the burden of both dementia and heart disease.
This gives us all double the reason to pay attention to our cardiovascular health (as well as 7 modifiable risk factors we can specifically focus on): Good heart health equals good brain health!